From the June 1983 issue of the Socialist Standard
You are again faced with a bunch of politicians who can only be distinguished from one another by the colour of their rosettes, but there are thousands of people not prepared to support any of them. About one in four did not vote for any of the candidates in the 1979 General Flection. It is particularly to men and women who are not prepared to follow leaders or to believe the bogus promises of Thatcher, Foot, Jenkins and Steel that this manifesto is directed.
Most of you will not know much about the Socialist Party of Great Britain — this may even be the first time you have heard of us. Certainly, many people have heard the word “socialist" and imagine that it has something to do with the nationalised industries or dictatorships such as Russia and China. It is understandable that many people regard “socialism" as just another political cliché, used to win votes for Labour politicians, but having very little meaning.
The Socialist Party stands solely for socialism because we do not think that the present social system — capitalism — can ever be made to work in the interests of the majority of people. This is not the fault of government policies, but of the present social system in which they are operating. Capitalism always puts the needs of the minority who own and control the factories, farms, offices, mines, media, the means of wealth production and distribution, before those of the vast majority — we, the working class — who produce the wealth, but own little more than our ability to work, which we have to sell for wages or salaries.
It is a hard but undeniable fact that no political party — including the Socialist Party — can legislate to humanise capitalism or make it run in the interests of the wage slaves. That's why it’s time for you to stop giving your votes to politicians who stand for the profit system. None of them can solve unemployment, which has increased steadily under both Labour and Conservative governments, despite their proclaimed recipes for economic success. None of them will provide decent housing for everyone. None of them will end hypothermia. None of them will prevent thirty million people from starving to death each year. None of them will end the threat of human annihilation as a result of war, because militarism is inevitable within a system based upon the market, trade and ferocious competition. Why waste your vote on parties that cannot make any of these urgently needed changes? Why go on in the hope that a miracle will happen and the insanity of the profit system will be put right?
So what's the socialist alternative? We say that the resources of society must be taken into the hands of the whole community — and by that we don't mean the state, but all of us, organised together, consciously and democratically.
In a socialist society we will produce for use, not profit. This means producing food to feed the world's population, not to dump in the sea if it cannot he sold profitably. Producing for use means ending the colossal waste of resources on armies, armaments, trade, banking and insurance, and all the other social features which are only necessary within capitalism; it means devoting human energies and natural resources to producing the best of what people really need and want. By running society on the basis of common ownership, democratic control and production for use we can all have free access to all goods and services.
Two points will be clear to you by now. Firstly, this is no ordinary manifesto. We have made no promises; we have not asked for your support. Indeed, the Socialist Party does not want your support unless you are convinced that the case for socialism is a sensible one and is in your interest. Socialism can only be established when a majority of workers understand and want it, so there is no point in seeking support on any other basis. Secondly, you will have noticed that what we are advocating is different — it has never been tried. That gang of political has-beens, the SDP, have nothing new to offer. The Labour Party, if elected, will continue its futile exercise of trying to reform capitalism. The Tories, if given a chance, will pursue their vicious policy of dancing to the tune of profitability while human needs are ignored. Thatcher’s “Victorian values”, Jenkins’ “consensus politics" and Foot’s “Keynesian” reformism have all been tried — they’ve failed. This is the only manifesto to come through your letterbox which is making a proposal to transform world society from the chaos and waste of the market into the co-operative democracy of production for use.
This manifesto can be summarised. Do you agree with the following statements?
★ CAPITALISM puts profits for the few before the needs of the many.
★ LABOUR governments, “communist states”, and proposals to reform the profit system cannot establish socialism.
★ SOCIALISM means a society of common ownership and democratic control where production is solely for use — not profit.
★ WHEN a majority of workers — including the quarter of the electorate who did not vote last time, the disillusioned members of the old parties and those who have turned to the SDP — understand and want socialism, the new system can be established immediately.
If you think that the above statements are wrong, please take the trouble to tell us why. If you agree with us, then why not take the next step and contact the Socialist Party?